Posthumous album brings Cornell staffer’s music to life

An album featuring the work of Daniel Gaibel, former information technology manager for the Language Resource Center (LRC), will debut this weekend at the Ithaca Festival. The album project, a posthumous tribute to Gaibel, was co-led by Sam Lupowitz, media manager at the LRC, who plays keyboards on the record with Gaibel’s band Spacetrain.

“I’m feeling a lot of joy that this music will be available and that we got to go into a studio and make a record I think Dan would be proud of,” Lupowitz said. “It brings up a lot of emotions because I miss him a lot.  I’m sad I didn’t get to play more music with him, but I feel very honored to be a part of this.”

four guys stand by a train
Provided Dan Gaibel, left, stands with members of his band Spacetrain.

Gaibel, who held his position at the LRC for 18 years, died of metastatic melanoma in 2019 at the age of 45. He was a musician and music lover who studied classical guitar, as well as computer science, at Ithaca College and played in a number of local bands. As he became sicker, Gaibel asked Lupowitz to shepherd some of his unfinished musical projects, including this album and a children’s rock opera about a seahorse (that’s next on Lupowitz’s agenda).

The surviving members of Spacetrain, along with Lupowitz and guitarist Joe Massa, played a memorial/tribute show for Gaibel after his death to “test the waters” and see whether they wanted to get back in the studio to work on the album.

Although they had a computer hard drive with various rough recordings, none of the nine songs were in final form, so they headed to a studio to record them again. Lupowitz was able to salvage some of the existing rough recordings of Gaibel playing guitar and they’re peppered throughout the album.

“There are times when you’ll hear another lead guitar backwards or doubling something and that’s Dan,” Lupowitz said. And there’s a voicemail message featuring Gaibel’s voice in a song he wrote about his brother, called “Bean.”

Most of the music on the record was written by Gaibel, who often forwarded pieces to bandmate Joe Gibson to add lyrics, Lupowitz said. Members of Spacetrain who will play this weekend include Gibson, Lupowitz, Massa, Sergio Pedro and Dan Collins. Lupowitz describes their music as psychedelic rock, with elements of funk, world music and jam-band improvisation mixed in.

The album will be released June 4 and be available on Apple Music, Spotify and other streaming services. CDs will also be available for purchase Saturday when the band plays at noon at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on The Commons during the Ithaca Festival. Proceeds from CD sales will be donated to the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes.

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